Prices have increased, but so has the off-road ability. The JL range comprises three trim levels with a choice of Wrangler two-door short wheelbase and the four-door long-wheelbase body configurations called the Wrangler Unlimited. The standard engine across the range is a slightly revised version of the long-serving 3.6 litre Pentastar petrol engine. A new 2.2-litre Multijet turbo diesel is also available in the top-of-the-range Rubicon variant only. Both engines are paired with a new eight-speed ZF automatic transmission, replacing the previous five-speed auto. A manual gearbox is no longer offered.
The new Sport S two-door V6 variant is the price-leader at $48,950 plus on-road costs through to $68,950 for the heavy-duty off-road-focused Rubicon four-door diesel. We tested the mid-range four-door Overland, which at $62,950 is leather trimmed and a little more stylish, without compromising its 4X4 ability.
Jeep’s Selec-Trac dual-range 4X4 system is employed for the Sport S and Overland variants and handles dirt tracks, steep descents and climbs, sand, rugged terrain and slippery patches with consummate ease. Extra suspension and driveline features on the Rubicon, which is equipped with Jeep’s Rock-Trac 4X4 system, take the off-road ability even further with extras including front stabiliser bar disconnect and front and rear locking differentials.
Equipment levels for each grade have been significantly upgraded. The Overland’s features include new LED headlights and tail-lights, and a new Uconnect system with an 8.4-inch touchscreen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Wrangler is designed to be customised with a massive range of accessories available.
For the most part there is a more coherent layout of the instrumentation, switches and controls, although a few things such as the dash-mounted window switches are still illogically placed.
Although classed as a medium SUV, the Wrangler is a relatively big unit. Seating is upright, with the driver perched high and towering over the multitude of mid-size soft-road SUVs that have become so popular. Limited space for the left leg, however, does compromise the driving position. Glance up and the unique roof structure, with its removable roof panels, looks close, but headroom was never a problem. Space and comfort in the rear is satisfactory.